Dental care is a big part of your overall health and having the right dentist for you is therefore very important. The right dentist should instill feelings of trust and comfort for all your regular checkups, dental emergencies or special procedures. Choosing the right dentist is a long-term decision to ensure continued high level of service and good “continuity of care”.
So, how do you find the right dental professional for you? Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
- How conveniently is the dental practice located? It would be easier if the dental practice is easily accessible— either near home or work. Is there sufficient parking available?
- Do their opening hours work for you? If you can pop in before or after work, or even during your lunch break for an appointment it leaves you plenty of time to get on with the other important things in your life.
- Does your medical insurance cover that particular dentist? Contact your insurance if you’re unsure if the dentist is in your network of providers.
- Ask other people—most dental practices have websites where you can read patients’ reviews. If you don’t trust these then there are also other independent websites where you read reviews on many businesses, your dentist included.
- Use the dentist’s website to assess other important bits of pertinent information:
- What’s their policy on missed appointments?
- Do they have a system in place to remind patients of upcoming appointments? This is particularly useful if you’ve scheduled the appointment a long time in advance or have your plate full of other important things in your busy life.
- Do they have emergency care? Some of those painful dental issues don’t stick to office hours!
- What happens when your dentist is unavailable? Is there a replacement dentist in place?
- Do they have payment plans and how soon after treatment is payment due?
- Does the dental practice process your particular medical insurance plan? Some practices choose a cash-only option and you have to claim the amount back from the insurance yourself.
- How do their fees compare with other similar dental practices? Investigate their fees for basics like x-rays, cleanings and fillings for a start.
- If you have any questions or concerns, can you call and speak to the dentist directly?
- Do they have any international accreditations? While this is not a deal breaker, it does reflect that the dental practice is willing to go above and beyond in terms of healthcare standards. Another point to consider is how often the dentist engages in continuing education to keep abreast of latest ideas and technologies.
- Depending on your specific dental needs, does the practice cater to, for example, younger patients or provide orthodontic services?
- After you have reviewed all the background information you have to follow this up with a first dental appointment to verify your choice. You can make an appointment for a basic checkup and cleaning. Some facts can only be assessed in person:
- Are the staff friendly and approachable? You will have to deal with the receptionist and other office staff as well.
- Are the premises clean and neat? Do the surfaces appear cleaned and sanitized?
- How amiable is the dentist? Going to the dentist is stressful enough for most people and in order build a trusting relationship, it is important to respect and like the dentist.
- Is he patient and thorough when answering your questions?
- Does the dentist take a full medical history and how often is it updated?
- What type of anaesthesia is the dentist certified to administer?
- Do all examining staff (dentist and assistant) use the correct protective gear, like gloves and masks?
- If you have a specific health condition, be sure to ask the dentist what experience and training he has with that specific illness.
- Does he take the time to explain how proper dental care can prevent other health issues, like heart disease?
- When there is a dental issue, will the dentist provide all possible treatment options?
Dr. Nabil Mockbil is an Orthodontist who received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai